Into the Depths: Reading/Blogging VS. Sleep

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Reading/Blogging VS. Sleep

I have been reading a lot of books lately. I typically can't go to sleep unless I read first, which is fine, but then I end up staying up even later because I get into the book. But I digress. I just completed two books and have started on a third. I keep coming across excerpts that strike me as especially deep, true or profound to me. Unfortunately, I often forget where I read them and have to go all the way back through the books to find them, but oh well. I want to write here some of the ones that I felt most strongly about. Some of them I am able to believe now, and others I can currently only aspire to believe.

Excerpts from "Letters From A Skeptic" by Dr. Gregory A Boyd and Edward K Boyd

"We need to ask the question of whether love is worth it (the risk that freedom brings) from the broadest possible perspective. If this temporal life is all there is, if the suffering and death of victims spelled the complete end of their existence, then perhaps we might legitimately argue that the risk is not worth it- at least not for the victims. But for Christianity this simply isn't true. Our earthly temporal lives are but a brief prelude to a life that is going to go on forever. For a great many this life is indeed filled with nothing more than pain and suffering, but from an eternal perspective, this is only a small part of the whole story. Jesus died on the cross so humans could exist eternally in the peace and joy of God - Heaven - and the promise of scripture is that this state of being will be such that our present sufferings can't be compared to it (Romans 8:18). In the light of Auschwitz, it must be incomprehensibly beautiful - which is exactly what scripture says it is (1 core. 2:9).
If there is no Heaven, Dad, then all the sufferings, tears and cries of the dying children go unanswered. Life is finally tragic for all of us. All of our hopes, longings, strugglings, striving come to nothing, pure nothingness! "Life's a bitch, then you die." But isn't there something in the depth of your heart which refuses to accept this as the whole truth? Isn't there something within you which resonates with the Biblical proclamation that this story must have a happy ending?"

"Christians, then, are each much like a butterfly in a cocoon. The life of beauty, of flying, of gracefulness is within them - it's who they really are - but this life is enclosed inside something which is inherently opposed to beauty, flying, and gracefulness. They are destined to fly, but in the meantime their life is a life of transition. They are butterflies in the process of shedding their cocoons.
What is, I think, very important for you to realize, Dad, is that the way in which Christians are gradually freed from their "old" selves is not by their own hard work, but by just allowing the Lord to build up and strengthen the butterfly within them. The only food which the saved soul eats is God's love, and so it is only as we rest in the love which God has for us, even while we are yet in the cocoon, that we receive more and more strength and motivation to get out of the cocoon. As we let Jesus love us as we are, we increasingly become convinced that we can bust loose, we can be freed, we can fly - and the more we want to do so.
Thus, don't imagine for a moment that you can free yourself from your cocoon, or that you could on your own even want to be set free very badly. Your motivation and strength for living God's life only comes when God's life is already residing within you. Transformation is the effect, not the cause, of salvation."

"No matter what people believe, their belief will go beyond what the evidence requires them to believe. That's why it's a belief, and not certainty. This is true whether a person believes Christianity is true or false. On an intellectual level, both positions involve some degree of risk. One simply cannot have the kind of certainty one has in mathematics about either position. The question is not which belief is strictly required by the evidence, but which belief has the best evidence to support it. I believe, and I think you believe, that Christianity has much more going for it as a worldview than any alternative. But neither of us commits a logical contradiction if we deny it. There is always a "leap" involved in believing anything."

Excerpts from "I Hate You - Don't Leave Me" by Jerold J Kreisman, M.D. and Hal Straus

"Severe physical and/or sexual abuse is a common trauma in the history of borderline personality. When a child is abused, he invariably blames himself because (consciously or subconsciously) it is the best of the available alternatives. If he blames the adult, he will be terrified by his dependency on incompetents who are unable to take care of him. If he blames no one, pain becomes random and unpredictable and therefore even more frightening because he has no hope of controlling it. Blaming himself makes the abuse easier to understand and therefore possible to control - he can feel that he somehow causes the abuse and therefore will be able to find a way to end it; or he will give up and accept that he is "bad."
The borderline learns early in life that he is bad, that he causes bad things to happen. He begins to expect punishment and may only feel secure when being punished. Later, self-mutilation may sometimes be the borderline's way of perpetuating this familiar, secure feeling of being chastised. As an adult he remains locked in the child's confusing world, in which love and hate co-mingle, only good and bad exist with no in between, and only inconsistency is consistent."

"In a sense the borderline carries only a sketchy map of interpersonal relations; he finds it extremely difficult to gauge the optimal psychic distance from others, particularly significant others. To compensate, he caroms back and forth from clinging dependency to angry manipulation, from outpourings of gratitude to irrational hate. He fears abandonment, so he clings; he fears engulfment, so he pushes away. He craves intimacy and is terrified of it at the same time. He winds up repelling those with whom he most wants to connect."

"A borderline suffers a kind of emotional hemophilia; he lacks the clotting mechanism needed to moderate his spurts of feeling. Stimulate a passion, and the borderline emotionally bleeds to death. Sustained periods of contentedness are foreign to the borderline. Chronic emptiness eats at him until he is forced to do anything in order to escape. In the grip of these lows, the borderline is prone to a myriad of impulsive, self-destructive acts - drug and alcohol binges, eating marathons, anorexic fasts, bulimic purges, gambling forays, shopping sprees, sexual promiscuity, and self-mutilation. He may attempt suicide, often not with the intent to die but to feel something, to confirm he is alive."

Excerpts from "The Holy Wild" by Mark Buchanan

"This book is about resting in the character of God. I take it to be that resting and trusting are near synonyms: I rest where I can trust. I rest on the bed that I'm assured won't buckle beneath my weight, the room where I am confident I won't be left vulnerable to enemies or predators, in the house where I'm certain I won't be exposed to toxins or contagions. If I doubt any of these things, if I lack trust, I may sleep in the house or the room or the bed - but I won't really rest there. I'll do it out of sheer exhaustion, maybe, but not out of trust. I'll be fitful and anxious, always checking my back, tense and clenching, a hair trigger on my reflexes.
My point: How I think about the bed determines whether or not I rest in it.
God doesn't change, but how we think about Him does. Dreaded things, we suspect, lurk in the basement. It is hard for us to rest in God, because it is hard for us to trust."

"If I truly desire the Holy Wild - living face-to-face with the beautiful, dangerous God, not safe but good - I need to know who this God is. I need to know Him, more and more, deeper and deeper, with biblical clarity. To know Him in my head and in my creed but also - with King David's instinct - in my guts and in my bones.
If I am to go anywhere with God, to follow Him, by hook or by crook, staggering, leaping, dancing, crawling, all the way into the Holy Wild, I need more than textbook knowledge of Him. I need more than piety, more than erudition, more than good intentions.
I need to drink and drink from the stream, even if it means - especially if it means - getting swallowed up."

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. Not that any one of us can have a full understanding of God. Saint Augustine walked the seashore one day, pondering the majesty of God. He saw a small boy who had dug a hole in the sand. The boy kept scooting down to the ocean, scooping up water in a seashell, and scrambling back to pour the water in the hole.
'What are your doing?' Augustine asked him?
'I'm going to pour the sea into that hole.' the boy said.
Ah, Augustine thought, that is what I have been trying to do. Standing at the ocean of infinity, I have tried to grasp it with my finite mind."

"A man I know who has traversed many seasons of pain said to me recently, 'God seems like that neighbor who keeps borrowing your stuff and either forgetting to return it or bringing it back damaged, with no explanation. You wonder how much more of your stuff you'll entrust to him.' Is He good?"

"And faith is finally this: resting so utterly in the character of God - in the ultimate goodness of God - that you trust Him even when He seems untrustworthy."

"That's sometimes what we are left with: a piece of straw to splint a broken heart, a fistful of wishes to fill a lifetime of emptiness. Yet there's a funny irony in all this. It's often those with scant experience of God's love who rest in it best."

"Helen's life has been a graveyard of loss, a scrapyard of betrayal. But ask her on any day what she knows, and she'll tell you, 'God is good. He loves me.' Her conviction about that hasn't come by toting up her days of wounds and wars, weighing them against her days of laughter and bounty, and seeing which tips the scale. Her belief has a different taproot: God is simply who He says He is, regardless of what her troubles might have tempted her to think or surmise. Helen stands in a venerable tradition. She is part of that great cloud of witnesses who, living by faith, refuse to reduce God to their own experience, to limit His love by the evidence of their own circumstances."

I didn't really realize when embarking on this post that it would consume two and a half hours of my night. What was I saying about staying up too late....


Anonymous Queen Beth said...

Hi Stephanie,

Thanks for coming to my blog and I'm so glad you found my post on Women's Health. I agree with you that it is so important to stay aware! I will be praying for your Mom.

Incidently, I have moved and I am no longer at that blog! You can find me at http://hermajestysthrone.blogsome.com. Come by and see me again! I'll be back here to see you!!

June 12, 2006 10:11 AM  
Blogger heartsjoy said...

Good reads. I must admit my mind has been in search mode as well. Thanks for sharing.

June 13, 2006 1:33 PM  
Blogger SuperMom said...

Sleep is overrated :-)

June 16, 2006 12:04 PM  
Blogger LiteratureLover said...

These books look good. Thanks for giving me reading ideas.

June 17, 2006 12:08 PM  

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